Repro Rights Afternoon Style: Silent Birth, AIDS denialism, Tea Party Abortion Argument and More

AIDS denialist given a radio gig, Tea Partiers argue over abortion and gays in the military, New Jersey legislators debate whether women’s health is all that important, what is “silent birth” and more…

  • WBAI, New York’s Pacifica radio station, has announed that they will put AIDS denialist Gay Null back on the air. Null pushes dangerous propaganda which includes the idea that HIV does not cause AIDS, that it’s not even a sexually transmitted infection and more. A host of organizations are petitioning WBAI to keep him away from the airwaves including the Global AIDS Alliance and CHAMP, The Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project. You can sign a petition here
  • Right Wing Watch notes that last week’s push, on the part of a handful of GOPers and Tea Party leaders for the Tea Party to abandon religious right social issues in its agenda has been met by fierce opposition from  “dozens of Tea Party leaders” (including religious rights groups) who have released their own letter to the GOP which includes “calling on Congress to fight repeal of DADT and defunding Planned Parenthood.” I’d like to think this is a real division in the Tea Party but the religious right is a force with which to be reckoned and most Tea Party supporters who identify with the religious right will not release from their white knuckle grip over other Americans’ lives and choices so easily.
  • New Jersey legislators will make another attempt, today, to restore family planning funding for critical health programs in the state. The programs would expand access to services like breast and pelvic exams, sexually transmitted infection testing, birth control and pregnancy testing. 
  • Kelly Preston, actress and wife of John Travolta, is due to give birth any day. As a follower of the Church of Scientology a lot has been made of the fact that Preston must abide by the church’s mandate to have a “Silent Birth.” Now, yes, I have issues with this as I find it absurd that there should be any dictates – from a church, from a provider, from anyone –  over how a woman must give birth, that is unrelated to health issues. That said, there seems to be a lot of misinformation over what exactly Scientology means by a “silent birth” (ie, it doesn’t mean utter silence on the part of the birthing woman). Still, I find it all unnecessarily controlling.  
  • Researchers in Canada are looking at the impact of stress during pregnancy on the long-term health of the babies in utero. The researchers say they’d like to be able to address what pregnant women can do to improve the health of their newborns, during pregnancy. However, I’d add that there are so many external stressors on pregnant women including lack of access to proper health care, economic issues, a lack of control over bodily autonomy, and more so I hope the results are viewed with a wide lens.

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  • saltyc

    How can they isolate the effects of stress during pregnancy from stress after pregnancy? It’s a three-year study. What if a mother’s stress has a higher impact on a baby than it does on the fetus? I mean, they’d have to control for that and I don’t see how it’s possible. Also, just what are those things you can do to reduce stress levels? I remember Andrew Weil pointing out that it’s ludricous for doctors to simply tell patients to “reduce their stress levels.” Because taking stress away in one place will usually bring it in another. Your job giving you stress? Work fewer hours, then you have the stress of not being able to pay bills.

    My bet is that stress during pregnancy doesn’t have a big impact, It would be nice if people and society tried to give pregnant women a break to reduce their stress but I suspect this is another way to blame pregnanct women.

  • amie-newman

    Thanks for posting! EXACTLY!

  • tonikt
  • Justice Antonin Scalia told students at University of Richmond that the Constitution is not a living document and that the founders never intended to have abortion or “gay sex” be legal. Now I understand – anything not directly related to the lives and experiences of the white men who founded this country is unconstitional? Of course! 


    Actually, statistically speaking … the white men who founded this country probably did have experience with both abortion and gay sex, in their immediate families if not in their own lives. They just might have had different names for them!


    Not that I disagree with your point. ;-)

  • squirrely-girl

    Generally speaking these types of studies rely on cortisol and other cortical steroid levels in the bloodstream and saliva. These are fairly easy to test throughout pregnancy and some studies have shown that infants born to women experiencing high levels of stress during pregnancy will actually show higher levels of cortisol immediately following birth than other babies. Stress during pregnancy has a number of later associations in children, one of the most prominent being ADHD.


    Now what to actually do with this information… well there’s the million dollar question. I don’t think this is an easy answer and I certainly don’t think pregnant women are solely responsible for their stress levels. 

  • amie-newman

    Very true, ToniKT :)

  • squirrely-girl

    Unless Scalia also believes they never meant for us to have automatic weapons, cars, and for anybody other than white, male, property owners to vote… well he needs to STFU about the constitution not being a “living document.” At any rate, I’m sure as hell they never intended for corporations to be viewed as “individuals.” That man needs publicly smacked.

  • saltyc

    It’s a study to see long-term effects of stress in utero. Again, how does that isolate the effect of stress during pregnancy on a three-year-old versus other factors likely present in stressed-out women/families? I get that you can test for stress during pregnancy. But if you want to know the long-term effects of fetal cortisol levels on a child you would have to control for those other factors of stress after gestation, and how do you do that outside of a study with adopted children who are not subject to higher-than-average parental stress after they’re born? See my point? It’s the old correlation doesn’t show causation. And looking at the material, it will not have a proper control, therefore is not a rigorous scientific study.

    The correlation is high, though, for stressed-out women to have stressed-out children, though the one may not cause the other but both may be caused by external factors. But looking to the uterus for the cause can no doubt be used as a rationale for limiting women’s decisions, such as where and for how long to work.